ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece prices 5.0-bln-euro July 2017 bond LONDON (Reuters) – Greece priced a -5.0 billion ($6.51 billion) bond due July 2017 in line with guidance, the banks managing the sale said on yesterday. The bond was priced at 99.918 percent of face value with a coupon of 4.3 percent, giving a spread of 30 basis points over Bunds, Citigroup, Emporiki Bank, JP Morgan, Piraeus Bank and Unicredit Group said. «The Greek bond has done very well, and I was not surprised by the authorities’ ability to sell 5 billion euros’ worth. The order book had been very large,» said Wee-Khoon Chong, a bond analyst at Bank of America in London. «Already, the bond is trading at below a spread of 30 basis points to the Bund. I was not surprised that Greece did not raise more. They have a target of about -12 billion to borrow in the first quarter and still have other bonds to issue,» he added. Turkish parliament passes law for Halkbank sale ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s parliament passed a law yesterday allowing the privatization of state lender Halkbank to go ahead. The three-article law will override a decision last month by Turkey’s top administrative court, the Council of State, to suspend the sale. Turkey told its major creditor, the International Monetary Fund, in its last letter of intent that it would privatize the bank by May 2007. It plans to privatize it in a block sale. The privatization of Halkbank – which with assets of about $23 billion is one of the last sizeable banks available to buy – is being closely watched from abroad. Bankers say those interested in the purchase include BBVA, National Bank of Kuwait, Fortis and Turkey’s Garanti and Akbank. RES investment Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas signed yesterday the setup of a committee for the promotion of large-scale investment projects in renewable energy sources (RES), in an effort to unblock major investments in the sector. These are forecast to total -2.5 billion by 2010, he said. In the last two years new RES projects have amounted to 50 percent of those installed during the previous 10 years, he added. Wireless Internet Irish firm free-hotspot.com is planning to install some 200 hubs (hotspots) for free wireless access to the Internet across Greece by the end of the year. Locations chosen will include hotels and tourism resorts, restaurants, cafes and other public areas. The company suggests it is about to sign cooperation agreements with local firm that will undertake promotion, installation and support of hotspots around the country. Bond trade volume drops The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank’s electronic system (HDAT) dropped to -45.01 billion in December from 64.6 billion in November, Bank of Greece said yesterday. The central bank said investor interest mainly focused on the long end of the yield curve. Paper with remaining maturities of 7-10 years absorbed 74 percent of overall volume. The most actively traded bond was the 10-year benchmark. (Reuters)